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This Hour: Latest Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont news, sports, business and entertainment

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LePage: State should fund psychiatric center

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) - Gov. Paul LePage says Maine should no longer seek federal money for a state run psychiatric hospital because the federal certification requirements are doing more harm than good.

LePage made the comments about the Riverview Psychiatric Center on Monday during a visit to a Lewiston homeless shelter.

The Republican governor said that Maine should "go at it alone and not take the federal money." He criticized what he called a one-size-fits-all model that makes it difficult for places like Riverview to receive certification.

The Maine Public Broadcasting network reports that Riverview recently lost another effort to become certified. The Augusta psychiatric hospital lost its certification last year and roughly $14 million in funding, due to a variety of concerns from the federal government.


Immigration debate roils politics in ... Maine?

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) - The debate over immigration is quickly becoming a central issue in one of the nation's most closely watched governor's races - in Maine.

Maine is the nation's whitest state, and its residents have a reputation for being insular. But they have also embraced the need for immigrants as the state's population ages and declines.

So Republican Gov. Paul LePage roiled the cultural waters when he criticized the federal government's placement of eight immigrant children in Maine without advising him.

LePage's re-election campaign has attacked his Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (mih-SHAWD'), for not taking a clear stand on whether he would agree to shelter children in Maine.

But Michaud's campaign said last week that LePage is using the issue merely to rally his political base.


Property tax break on way for Maine seniors

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Property tax relief is on the way for some Maine residents.

The Portland Press-Herald reports that the Property Tax Fairness Credit designed to help seniors and lower-income families takes effect on Friday.

The new law signed by Republican Gov. Paul LePage boosts the credit from $400 to $900 for taxpayers who are 65 and older. The credit will jump from $300 to $600 for younger, low-income residents.

Tax filers can apply for the credit on their 2014 property taxes when they file their state income taxes next year.

Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves says the measure will help many seniors on fixed incomes who are being forced out of their homes because they cannot keep up with their rising property tax bills.


Officials in Maine town reject marijuana plan

YORK, Maine (AP) - Selectmen in York have said no to placing a proposed ordinance to legalize marijuana in the town on the November ballot.

The 3-2 vote on Monday does not end the issue, however. Supporters of the proposal must now collect 613 signatures to force the question on to the ballot.

The Portland Press Herald reports the vote followed a public hearing in which the majority spoke out against legalizing marijuana, citing concerns about public health and law enforcement.

The South Portland City council plans to vote next week on a measure that would make it legal for people 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. If the says no, it would go on the November ballot.

The city of Portland passed a referendum last year allowing recreational use of marijuana by adults.


Hearing on phthalates scheduled in Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is set to hold a public hearing about the use of chemicals called phthalates (THAL'-ayts) in household products in response to petitions from parents.

Parents called on the agency to hold the hearing about a request to require manufacturers to report use of the chemicals, which are often called "plasticizers" and are used to make plastics more flexible and durable. The hearing is slated for Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. at a DEP office in Augusta.

The group says it delivered petitions with more than 2,000 names calling for the rule change.

The chemicals are used in products like vinyl flooring and personal care products. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says some types of phthalates have affected reproductive systems in lab animals.



Man charged in teen's disappearance heads to court

CONWAY, N.H. (AP) - A 34-year-old man charged with kidnapping a New Hampshire teen more than nine months ago is heading to court.

Nathanial Kibby of Gorham was charged Monday with felony kidnapping Oct. 9 - the day then-14-year-old Abigail Hernandez vanished after leaving her Conway high school. She returned home the night of July 20, but officials have yet to reveal information about the circumstances.

Kibby's arraignment is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday in Conway District Court.

Assistant Attorney General Jane Young says details will come out in court and there will be a press briefing afterward.

Kibby was arrested without incident at his mobile home Monday afternoon. Neighbors say they were shocked.

Attorney General Joseph Foster said Hernandez provided authorities with the details that led to Kibby's arrest.


Hassan vetoes bill on state audit process

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Gov. Maggie Hassan has vetoed a bill that deals with investigations and audits of state financial activities, saying it violates the fundamental separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.

The bill deals with the Office of the Legislative Budget Assistant, which investigates and researches financial activities of state government agencies. It's made up of the Audit Division and Budget Division.

Hassan said Monday sometimes, the audit division asks for access to documents that executive branch agencies consider confidential or privileged under the state's right-to-know laws.

Such disputes normally are handled by the attorney general's office. The bill would shift them to the Legislative Fiscal Committee, which could make them public. Hassan said that could undermine the state's ability to attract competitive bids for goods and services.


Community college cuts costs, reduces staff

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The community college in Concord has reduced its workforce by 14 positions as it deals with growing expenses and flat revenue.

President Sudan Dunton told staff that four full-time and one part-time faculty member, as well as two full-time staff, have been told they would not be recalled for the fall semester. In addition, one full-time faculty member and five full-time staff positions and one part-time position that were recently vacated will not be filled.

Dunton said in the spring, the senior management team instituted several steps to start to address what was forecast as a budget gap of about $3 million. This included a hiring freeze, more than $1 million in cuts to non-payroll budget items, and shifting over $400,000 in expenses.


Feds discuss changing tribal recognition process

MASHPEE, Mass. (AP) - The federal Department of the Interior is holding a hearing in Massachusetts on its plan to make it easier for American Indian tribes to gain federal recognition.

The Tuesday morning hearing, at the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe's community center on Cape Cod, is the last in series of meetings on the proposal, and the only one on the East Coast.

The department wants to lower the threshold for tribes to demonstrate community and political authority, among other things. Rather than from "historical times," tribes would only need to show evidence dating back to 1934.

The Mashpee Wampanoags won federal recognition in 2007, after a more than 30-year process. The department announced Friday it would delay finalizing the rules, which were proposed last summer, by at least 60 days.


Man sentenced, tried to smuggle drug into jail

LACONIA, N.H. (AP) - A New Hampshire man charged with providing heroin that resulted in a man's overdose death in February has pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle a prescription narcotic into the Belknap County jail.

Jonathan Woodbury has been sentenced to at least 18 months in prison after saying he stole a bottle of shampoo from a supermarket, dumped its contents and refilled with an opiate used to relieve pain and treat addiction.

The Citizen reports prosecutors said the 31-year-old Woodbury brought the bottle to the jail last October for a female inmate.

In April, Woodbury was indicted charge of sale of a narcotic, with death resulting. A trial has been scheduled for January.


President of NH Community Loan Fund honored

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The president of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund is getting some recognition in Money magazine.

Juliana Eades of Canterbury has been named a "Money hero."

The magazine chose one person from each state who is "making extraordinary efforts to improve the personal finances of others."

Eades, the first employee of the Community Loan Fund when it was founded in 1983, has been honored for working to provide stable and affordable homeownership for low- and moderate-income people and families.

Under her leadership, the Community Loan Fund provides financing and education that helps residents of manufactured-home parks convert their communities to resident-owned cooperatives.

It collaborates with donors and investors, and with business, nonprofit and government partners, to provide financing and support for people to have affordable homes.



Talks set for FairPoint Communications and union

COLCHESTER, Vt. (AP) - Contract talks are due to resume between FairPoint Communications and the largest union representing workers across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers business manager Mike Spillane tells WPTZ-TV FairPoint is determined to gut benefits.

The union represents about 1,800 FairPoint employees in the three states. Members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if necessary.

Health and retirement benefits are among the issues yet to be resolved. The company says current benefits are out of synch with industry norms and that it remains focused on reaching a successful agreement.

FairPoint spokeswoman Angelynne Amores Beaudry says the company has a plan in place to ensure continued service if the workers strike.


Pipeline digging to stop near utility lines

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The state Public Service Board has ordered Vermont Gas Systems to stop digging for its pipeline near power lines owned by the Vermont Electric Cooperative because of nearby pesticide concerns.

Vermont Public Radio reports the state Agency of Natural Resources alerted the company to the possibility that soil contaminated with Pentachlorophenol, or PCP, could be disturbed by pipeline construction. The cooperative's poles have been treated with PCP, also used as a wood preservative. The EPA has found it to be toxic.

Last week, Vermont Gas said in a letter to the board "it would be prudent" for the company to develop a soil management plan for the project. In response, the board required the company to stop digging until a plan has been reviewed and approved by the board.


Electric clothes dryer was source of weekend fire

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) - Firefighters believe an electric clothes dryer was the source of a fire that damaged part of an apartment building in St. Albans, Vermont.

None of the seven occupants was hurt in the fire over the weekend.

City Fire Chief Gary Taylor tells the St. Albans Messenger the dryer was on the front porch and plugged into an extension cord.

About 50 firefighters responded and were able to save the building. One firefighter suffered a minor burn to his hand.


Former fire chief cleared of embezzlement charge

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A judge has dismissed an embezzlement charge against a former Vermont fire chief stemming from a department-sponsored raffle.

Joseph Hayes, who was Bennington Rural Fire Department Chief, had pleaded not guilty last year. Police investigated complaints that he had mishandled raffle tickets. Police said some people who won prizes never received them and that money paid for tickets was never turned over to the department.

The Bennington Banner reports the judge said the affidavits did not contain anyone with personal knowledge of how much money was alleged to be missing. Also, the state could not show that more than $100 was missing to support the charge.

Hayes still faces four counts of violating release conditions.


Man accused of stabbings found incompetent

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont man accused of trying to kill a relative one day and then a fellow prisoner the next day has been found incompetent to stand trial.

Authorities say in June, 21-year-old Chad Brown, who had been charged with the stabbing and injuring two police officers, was shackled to another man in Chittenden County Superior Court. Police said he was using a pen to fill out paperwork when he lunged, driving the pen into the man's neck and narrowly missing vital arteries and veins.

The Burlington Free Press reports Brown was evaluated by the Vermont State Hospital. Judge Linda Levitt said Monday the court would agree with a doctor's report and find Brown incompetent.

A hospitalization hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 11.


Woman charged with destroying ex's gun collection

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) - A 55-year-old Vermont woman is facing charges she destroyed her ex-boyfriend's collection of firearms.

State Police say Sheri Bergeron, of St. Albans, was charged Monday with felony unlawful mischief.

Police say they began investigating the case earlier this month and discovered that 12 firearms belonging to Bergeron's ex-boyfriend had been destroyed, probably in January.

Police did not say how the firearms were destroyed.

Bergeron was arrested Monday and later arraigned before she was released on conditions. Police did not say if she entered a plea.

A phone number listed for Bergeron was disconnected.

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